On the twelfth day of Christmas, my lifestyle gave to me: twelve days of shopping, eleven Christmas parties, ten children’s concerts, nine knotted stomachs, eight toxic in-laws, seven toddlers’ tantrums, six spousal quarrels, five road trips, four splitting headaches, three sick kids, many bouts of tears, and a present under the tree.
At least, that’s the message I’ve been hearing this Christmas. Between end-of-year events, and family and cultural demands, many of us feel overwhelmed and exhausted. The calendar is packed. The kids are wrecked; the kids are fractious; the kids are sick. The relatives are toxic, and the marriage is under strain as different family systems compete and clash. People are clocking serious miles attending events and meeting expectations; the little ones in the backseat are throwing tantrums; and I have seen more adults on the brink of tears this month than the rest of the year put together.
Folks, what’s going on? Whose life are you living? And how does this express your faith?
Long ago, the Christ-child was born into poverty so that we might know hope, peace, joy, love, and freedom from empire. So why are we capitulating to the demands of global capitalism, the biggest empire the world has ever seen? Why are we busting a gut to gather with blood relatives, not our mothers and sisters and brothers in Christ? Why do we accept exhaustion, but not the promises of Advent? And why do we feel so trapped?
It doesn’t need to be this way. The promises of Advent are real: but to receive them, we need to make room. We need time, and we need slowness, and we need less. For it is only when we stop filling our lives with busyness and clutter and other people’s demands and start recognising our impoverishment of spirit that Christ can make a home in us.
So ask yourself, Where do you currently place your body, your time, your energy, your money, and, therefore, your faith? Is it in Christ, in capitalism, in middle class achievements, or in family? What are your true priorities, and what might you need to say no to? And how will you lay the groundwork now to orient your life back towards God and give yourself a very merry Christmas … next year?
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